New Delhi: Pursuant to its new policy of stonewalling probing questions, CBI has gone a step ahead refusing to respond to RTI applications seeking information on closed preliminary enquiries on graft which are part of its public annual reports and have no bearing on any probe.
CBI, exempted from provisions under Right to Information Act, is under statutory obligation to respond to RTI pleas seeking the information (any material in any form held by or under the control of the public authority) related to "allegations" of corruption and human rights violation.
The information seeker had sought records of all the preliminary enquiries (PEs) on corruption closed by the agency during past one year but the two anti-corruption units of the agency returned the applications saying the agency is exempted from the RTI Act.
The rejection of the RTI petitions seems to be extension of the reported media policy adopted by new Joint Director R S Bhatti, in-charge of media relations, of not responding to any probing or uncomfortable questions from the media.
Recently, CBI Director Anil Sinha had also said in a media interaction that "nothing related to investigation should come in public domain".
The DIG-ranked officials rejected the applications seeking to know the details of preliminary enquiries "closed" during last one year, without going through the exemption clause of the RTI Act and past orders of the Central Information Commission.
Ironically, the information on PEs is made public every year in the annual report of the agency which lists all the enquiries registered by CBI but does not give detail of whether it has been closed or converted into an FIR or a regular case.
Besides, closed PE will not have bearing on any probe as it has been ended officially by the agency which leaves out section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, commonly cited by the CBI to deny information on ongoing cases.